Thursday, January 04, 2007

No News is Good News

Hello Constant Reader (a phrase borrowed from Stephen King):

Yesterday I went to the hospital to get the results of the tests I had last week. As it turns out, they show nothing. This is good news. Last time, they showed nothing, so showing something would be bad news.

I have mentioned before that my cancer doesn’t really show up on scans. I can explain that a bit more. To understand why scans don’t work for me very well, you have to understand the concept of resolution.

A viewing machine can only see details as fine as its resolution, details smaller than that are lost. Imagine a large (say 10 feet wide) map of the United States. You can identify (resolve) different states, mountain ranges, maybe counties, rivers, maybe some large lakes. Maps like this usually have dots for the cities, even large ones. What about the neighborhood you live in? You can’t see (resolve) that on a map of the United States. It is just too small. If someone were to try to draw your neighborhood on the map, they would find they need a very small pen. In fact, the size of the pen you can use determines the resolution.

Even if the person were to draw your neighborhood, it would be wrong, because just putting a dot on the map would cover many neighborhoods. In other words, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between one neighborhood and another.

This is the problem with my scans. Although my cancer spread around my abdomen, it was thinner than the resolution of the scanning machines (CT scanner). If the resolution of a CT Scan is 1 millimeter, then the machine cannot see anything smaller than that. The only way to see something smaller, is to open me up and look. The human eye can see much better than a CT scanner (in some ways).

So, why do we do these scans, especially considering that they are so uncomfortable? Well, if the cancer grows, we need to know right away. They scan my brain with MRI to see if the cancer has spread there. All my scans come up negative for cancer.

My next post is going to explain some cancer treatments, and why they work (or don’t)

Cancer Sucks


Alana said...

Yeah! I'm so glad to hear that. Sounds like you are doing well....keep it up!

Alana said...

sounds like you are doing great....i'm so excited for you!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your down-to-earth explanations of what is happening with cancer and you. You make it easy. Maybe you should think about a book titled "Cancer for Dummies"!
Seriously, though, Jason - I am so happy you are doing so well.
Love U! Aunt Joan

Mary Bray said...

Jason - I just want you to know that I pray for you and Jennifer and Jacob every single day.
Love you - Ms. Mary